Chapter One – January 2002
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As the sirens wailed and the lights flashed, the young woman on the stretcher just wished they would leave her alone. All this noise over nothing. Couldn’t they see that she just wanted to quietly sleep? All these questions, who are you, what is today’s date, who is president of the United States? Really, who cared? She certainly didn’t care and that’s why she was currently in this position.
It all had started at work…
“You need to learn your job, and do it right”. The words had reverberated through her mind most of the morning. The words had been those of one of her co-workers at the accounting firm in which had recently been hired. Couldn’t they see, she did know her job; she had been in charge of Accounts Receivable before, three years ago. But it took a lot, trying to get used to the politics of new business, new software, and trying to bring back skills she had used over three years ago. She knew her job, she was just as good as they were, or was she?
Unfortunately she was her own worst critic. And deep inside she felt as if she had failed and failed deeply. Three months in this god-forsaken place and she still didn’t know how to reboot the main frame and make enough sense of the mound of papers that grew higher and higher on her desk everyday. Not to mention her new boss who had just arrived less than two weeks ago, which was at least ten years younger than she, and was running rings around her. Just a young girl, double-checking, asking questions, making her feel more acutely all of the things she still needed to learn and to learn quickly.
Actually it wasn’t her new boss fault, after all she was just trying to undo three years of mismanagement in the company, and start to put things in their place. The mismanagement has gotten to the point where stock in the company was dropping lower and lower, and a hostile take over was a possibility. So actually her new boss was in an even worse position. She was in charge on the whole accounting department, working with folks who had been doing the majority of the mismanagement and trying to get everything in order. In fact they had just gone over a memorandum asking them to account for invoices and payments that were over a year and a half old!
All of this made her feel even more useless. These were things that she felt that she should be able to help with, but couldn’t. Staff meeting was even worse; the CEO got all of them together once a week to espouse pomposity on any subject matter that came to mind. Whatever you knew he knew twice as much about it and was glad to tell you everything he did know on the subject. The CEO surrounded by his infamous “yes men”, who agreed to everything he said, and knew even less. Despite knowing this she came out of each staff meeting feeling more battered than ever, more so on this particular day. It seemed as though she couldn’t to anything correctly even though she put forth lots of time and effort and got glowing reviews from the company’s clients.
Oh well, the day was over and she was exhausted. Working ten to fourteen hours a day, did that to you. She was well on her way home, when she saw the signs for Barney’s Pub, a familiar hang out with all of the “upwardly mobile” folks. As if lured by the lights in the parking lot, she found herself turning in just for a drink. As she entered the pub, she noticed her favorite bartender was on duty, and had her favorite gin and tonic already on the counter, with an empty stool in front of it. She smiled at his kindness; it was the first kindness she had felt all day. What a shame it had to come from a bartender, who was just into it for the tips.
The first shot went down smoothly. Damn…that Tangaray was good! After the second, she was mellow and was mentally rearranging her “A”, “B”, and “C” lists in her mind. This was a game of fantasy that she often played in her head after a hard day, a way to blow of the frustrations with others that she knew she would never approach in any other than a subservient fashion.
The lists were quite interesting. The “C” list were folks that she simply had a low tolerance for. These were people who annoyed her in any number of ways during the day. She had no hard feelings for the people on this list, if she had her preference, she’ have them all deposited on an island in the Pacific Ocean and have food and medicine dropped in monthly. The “B” list were people who if ever were in the same place at the same place, she’d simply roll a grenade in their midst and blow them all to kingdom come.
Now the “A”, that was the “special” list. On this list were all the people, who knowingly hurt her, rejected her, or knowingly insulted her intelligence. Not only did those folks do it, but also did it constantly and possibly knowingly. These people would have to suffer. First a shotgun blast to the knees to drop them in a begging position, and then as they begged for their lives, she’d tell them what they had done to her, make them beg for her forgiveness, and then finish them off.
Even though she didn’t have the heart to do things like that, the game although macabre was somewhat soothing. Before she knew it she’d finished four drinks, and had the CEO on the “A” list, his “yes men” on the “B” list, and most of the folks in her immediate department on the “C” list. Feeling a little tipsy, she over tipped the friendly bartender, and weaved her way to the parking lot, hoping she wouldn’t meet a local cop who was short on his quota of DUI tickets. She drove carefully home.
She poured herself another drink when she got home, mentally recreating the day once more. Damn…how long did it take for a sister to get a break? She drank as she relaxed and reflected in the bubble bath. Toweling off she sprayed on her favorite scent and powder that always made her feel better. Still feeling restless, she rummaged in her bag for the bottle of Valium her physician had given her to help her sleep problems. She popped two into her mouth and washed them down with a swig of gin. As she lay in the darkness, sleep still was elusive and the problems of the day still fresh in her mind. She took two more. “What the hell?”, she thought and took a couple more. Maybe permanent sleep might be the answer, however with her track record, she probably wouldn’t die but remain in a motionless coma where she’d have twenty or thirty more years to relive all of the moments of her life. Whatever. She needed some rest. She emptied the rest of the bottle into her hand.
Chapter Two – May 1967
Five-year-old Dominique Scott was quite exited. Mommy was going to take her to the movies today. Mommy didn’t go out too much, most of the time she was asleep and drinking from a little glass that she carried around in her left hand while she chained smoked with her right. If Nicki (as she was called by all) could just finish the hot chocolate that her mom had made they could go. But that was the problem, didn’t mommy notice that the chocolate milk smelled funny and had a thick skin on the top? She tried to tell her Mommy this but she couldn’t make her understand. Mommy just kept getting madder and finally left her at the table with tears rolling down Nicki’s face. It looked like they wouldn’t be going to the movies after all.
Mommy had told her not to leave the table until all of the milk was finished, but it made her stomach upset. Why didn’t mommy see that? Nicki slowly climbed the stairs up to her parents’ room hoping to apologize and still be able to go to the movies. After all the big hand was on the two and the little hand was still on the twelve so there was still time. She quietly knocked on Mommy’s door but got no reply. Timidly she peeked in the door, and saw mommy back in bed again. “Shoot”, she never got the chance to do anything! Well she was going to the movies anyway, and then she was going to run away.
She took the change purse from her Mommy’s dresser and carefully packed a pair of underwear and her favorite doll. She crept back down the stairs to the front door listening carefully for any response from her mother. She silently closed the front door behind her. As she got to the corner she remember that daddy had told her never to cross the street without a grown up. Nicki didn’t want to make her Daddy mad, he’d be mad enough once he found out she ran away. So she turned the corner. There were so many people, so many big cars going back and forth. She turned another corner. There was a building with people in it smoking and drinking from glasses just like her Mommy. That wasn’t the movie theater, but it had to be close, Nicki had walked far and her bag was getting heavy. As she turned the next corner, she realized that she had run away back to her own house. With tears welling in her eyes, Nicki sat on her front steps and cried. Her mommy snored peacefully upstairs oblivious to all that had happened.
Later that evening Dominique heard the voices of her father and her mother. She crept down the stairs and sat on the bottom stair looking and listening intently. Mommy was dressed in her nightgown and was at the front door.
“Gwendolyn”, her father said, “You can’t go outside at this time of night. And besides you’re not dressed properly”. Her mother protested violently. “But, I have to go, I have to go home, I have to go now”. Her father replied in a soothing voice, “You can go home in the morning, darling, I’ll take you there”. After a couple of feeble attempts Nicki’s mother relented.
As her mother and father turned towards the stairs, they saw Nicki sitting there wide eyed.” What was wrong with mommy”, she thought. Her father gathered her gently into his arms and tucked her into bed with her mother. “Now that’s special”, thought Nicki. That even made up for not going to the movies. She drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
Chapter 3 – May 1967
Kindergarten was good that day. Nicki had received a special award for knowing her numbers and was anxious to share it with her mommy and daddy. She fidgeted as she watched the clock hands. She knew kindergarten would be over for the day when the big hand was on the twelve and the little hand was on the three. After an eternity of waiting it was time and the teacher lined them up for dismissal.
Nicki saw her grandma and grandpa waiting for her. Excitedly she jumped up and down. Anytime they came there was a treat. Grandpa always took her to White Castle’s for chocolate ice crème, and he even let her order all by herself! Grandma and grandpa weren’t smiling though, but Nicki was sure that they would smile after they saw her certificate. Nicki was excited.
She hugged both of them showing them her certificate. Grandma patted her on the head. Surely that would mean another scoop of ice cream! But as it came time to make the turn to go to her grandparent’s house, the car turned to her parent’s house instead.
“Oh”, Nicki thought, “Maybe Mommy and Daddy are going too”. The thought excited her even more. But as she entered the house there were a lot of people inside. Daddy looked sad and Nicki ran to give him the certificate. Daddy smiled and hugged her. He hugged her so tightly that she could hardly breathe. Nicki was proud.
“Can I show my award to Mommy?”, Nicki asked. “Just a moment sweetheart her father. Nicki was confused.
Her father sat down sighing. Daddy had tears in his eyes! Nicki gingerly tried to wipe them away with her small hands. He father held her hands gently and told her to be still. He told her that her mommy had gone to be with Jesus. That didn’t make sense to Nicki, she had clearly heard mommy say last night that she was going home. Mommy’s home was not where Jesus was – home was where her Grandparents lived on Gratz Street. Jesus didn’t live there did he?
Her daddy explained, her mommy had died and gone to heaven that morning. Nicki asked him, “Well, when is she coming back?". He replied, “Never, sweetheart, never”. Nicki didn’t believe him – she ran for the stairs. As she opened the door to her parent’s bedroom she grew alarmed as she realized that Mommy wasn’t there. She searched all of the rooms frantically, clutching her certificate in her hand. Mommy was nowhere to be found. Where was she? She ran to her grandmother. Her grandmother rocked her quietly and told here that her mommy was gone forever. Nicki asked,” Does that mean that she cant see my certificate?". Grandma replied softly, “Yes”. Tears began to roll from Nicki’s eyes – she just didn’t understand. She cried until she fell asleep in her grandmother’s arms.
Pink was all she remembered about the funeral – just pink. Mommy was dressed in a pink gown, holding pink roses, with her nails painted pale pink. Nicki wondered about that – Mommy never wore nail polish. Mommy looked as thought she was sleeping, Nicki touched her to wake her up. Mommy’s skin was cold and hard. Nicki still didn’t understand. This couldn’t be her mommy; her mommy was warm and funny. Her mommy played the organ at the church, but a strange lady was playing it now. Nicki was confused. Why was mommy sleeping and not playing the organ? Why did they close her up in that box when she was just sleeping? Why did they put mommy underground in that box? Didn’t that nice man in the black suit realize that she still needed her mommy? Tired and exhausted from wondering, Nicki fell asleep in the crook of her fathers arm.
-- To Be Continued --